Friday, September 26, 2014

Coffee Brake: YouTube Mechanic

You're heading someplace in a hurry.  You pop your car into reverse for the first step of your usual 3-point trooper-turn to get your car out of your driveway.  After stopping, you put it into drive and pull up as far as you can, almost clearing that bush where you stop for point two.  You go to put the car into reverse for the third point, but she's a no go!  Will not go past neutral.  Well, now you're blocking your driveway, so you gotta 'convince' that bush to give just a little so you can get out to the street.  Coffee Brake feature written by Hunsbloger.

Pulling over, you realize that you can go forward until you run out of gas, but you just can't go into reverse, or more importantly remove your key.  What to do?  Its Sunday afternoon, its 90+ degrees, your driveway is blacktop and you're not looking forward to what its going to cost to rip the freaking transmission out to dislodge whatever piece of used Cheerio, hairpin, cell phone chord, or broken shift linkage is preventing you from going about your day.

You quickly realize, that you've just lucked out in a big way because this is the car your wife and daughter were about to drive 100 miles to a concert.  Had this happened to them in that parking lot, near midnight, you would have gotten that call (that we all dread).

If you're like us, you jump onto whatever internet linked device you have and you punch up Google.  In this instance, I got really lucky.  A guy in Dallas Texas had the same problem with car a couple of years ago and thoughtfully recorded the whole experience on a 37 min cell phone video which he posted on YouTube.  I watched all 37 minutes of it.

I would suggest that anyone following the attached link should start watching at the 5:18.  The real diagnosis and solution is found at 19:30 The problem is: a broken piece of plastic inside the shift release knob prevents a rod from moving out of the way when shifting into reverse or park.  This is repaired by removing and replacing the entire shift lever.  The shift lever just sits inside the transmission's shift lever.

Five minutes later, I had the car parked back in my driveway, with the keys out.  I'd located the broken part online.  The car was drive-able in an emergency.  My wife picked up the part the next day on her way home from work.  A quick 10 minute fix after dinner and the car was up and running again.  Comments from other viewers of this video informs that this would have been a $400+ repair at the dealership.  I would be remiss if I didn't give a huge Thank You to "TheTexasCoder" for his video as it saved my bacon.

Bottom line... what's your best save that you've gotten from Univeristy of Google, or Youniversity of Youtube?


  1. nothing so dramatic, but when i got fed up with the roadmaster's wimpy headlights... really its only shortcoming - well, and the flimsy front door cards - and the confounding rubber squishy expanding roof rack screws - but i digress

    a bit of research revealed a guy in reno who hand assembles to-the-millimeter precise wiring harnesses to handle higher-watt bulbs, and a parts hoarder in atlanta who has the only bulbs that will do, $26 a pair, or was it eaches? - anyhoo, a few scraped knuckles and an improvisational extended battery post later, i've got some serious candlepower - literally night and day and totally worth it

    apologies to those who have seen this story before, but it's just so illustrative of what the internet can do for micro-niche, "long tail" enthusiasts of all stripes - good article in Wired a couple years back as i recall... here it is

    1. I just read that whole link waiting for a mention of old station wagons.

  2. As with all things internetz, you take the bad with the good. For anyone with a 1992-1997 Audi 100/A6/S4/S6 who is contemplating repairing climate control related issues (heater core, blower motor, flap motors, etc.) here is a video that outlines precisely what NOT to do:

    Unlike newer Audis you don't have to remove the dash. You don't even have to remove the center console. As a former pro Audi mechanic I could do this job in a shade under 2 hours. A semi experience shade tree mechanic should budget a day...a fair sight shorter than the 2 weeks it took this guy. Oopsss.

  3. Learning how to tie a chicken properly for a rotisserie oven when I realized I only had 2 feet of twine and guests coming over in 15 minutes.

    1. I'm sorry I forget where I am sometimes. This is the best entertainment since the old dudes started critiquing the muppets from their balcony.

  4. Well, here is an indirect mechanical save thanks to YouTube. One Saturday, I came home to find SWMBO (aka my wife) quite agitated because the washing machine was not working correctly. Any of you married guys know that a wife with a sopping wet half-cleaned load of laundry is not a happy creature, and therefore neither should you be.

    I twisted a bunch of knobs on the machine, and observed what was (or rather was not) happening. Not knowing much about washers, I did a YouTube search using the symptom and the brand name. Up pops a video that seemed to match my situation very closely.

    This guy diagnosed a jammed drain pump, and showed me exactly how to get at it. He also showed me the range of junk that came out of his. By the way, it winds up that one of the most common causes of a jam is one of the underwires from your fair lady's bra, but that is just an aside.

    In my case, when I got the pump apart I found the drill bit that I had left in my shirt pocket the previous day when I was under the car fixing a rattling heat shield. Needless to say, I sheepishly reassembled things and announced "There Honey, all fixed. Glad I could help...."

    Thank you YouTube!

  5. I have a friend who is THE definition of optimist. Nothing is beyond his skill level to disassemble. Reassembly is a different matter. invariably, as my shop is convenient for him to "just drop by", I end up with the "re" part of the job. So, he shows up in his Audi A6 wagon with the drivers window beneath the sill and the door part way open from trying to pry off the panel. Seems he thought the window had jumped the track and his shoebox Ford window was easy to fix, so how different could this be?

    After a Youtube search, I found a vid that walks you through replacing the $8 plastic part that causes window failure. It included all the tricky little movements to get the door card off and what things to unplug, what to not touch, etc. I put the laptop on his fender, showed him where the play/pause button was and walked away. God, I love the internet.


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